Roberta Pergher

Assistant Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU, IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I grew up in a small town in northern Italy and came to the US in the mid-1990s to attend college. After receiving a B.A. in economics and women’s studies and a M.A. in international studies from the University of Denver, I went on to study history at the University of Michigan. My dissertation explored the way the Fascist regime attempted to Italianize two recently conquered territories – the border province South Tyrol in the very North (my home region), and the colony of Libya to the South, across the Mediterranean. I found that the Fascist endeavor to incorporate these two rather disparate regions came to depend on the same policy: the settlement of Italian families. The actual settlers, however, were often driven by motivations that ran counter to those of state and party. Fascist Italy’s drive to incorporate and administer diverse regions is now at the center of my book project, titled Fascist Borderlands: Nation, Empire and Italy's Settlement Program, 1922-1943. I have expanded my analysis to include a number of “peripheries” in order to answer the question of how fascist Italy went about forging a nation and an empire at the same time. It is the tension inherent in these projects that intrigues me. What was to be nation, and what was to be empire? Who would belong to the one and who to the other? Throughout the project it has been fascinating to explore the character, contradictions, and enigmas of Italian expansionism with an eye on my own home region, where the tension between Italian and German speakers was particularly high in the interwar years, while locating this regional story in the broader context of Fascist nation-and empire-building from the Alps to Africa. For my next project, I would like to write a cultural and social history of World War I in the Alps. Rather than revisiting the famous battles along the Piave, my study will analyze the war amidst Alpine cliffs and glaciers and its meaning for the soldiers as well as for the people living in the valleys below. Tentatively titled The Battle for the High Ground: Nationalism, Technology, and Nature on the Alpine Front in World War I, the book will build on memoirs, military sources, photographs, and on-site visits.

Honors and Awards

  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Princeton, Spring 2013
  • Max Weber Fellow, European University Institute, Florence, Italy, 2008-2009
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, University of Michigan, 2007-2008

Research Interests

  • Modern Europe with an emphasis on Italy and Germany
  • Fascism
  • Imperialism
  • Migration and settlement
  • Borderlands
  • Comparative and transnational history


  • Ph.D. at University of Michigan, 2007



  • In the Society of Fascists: Acclamation, Acquiescence and Agency. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 (edited volume, with Giulia Albanese).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “The Ethics of Consent—Regime and People in the Historiographies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany,” Contemporary European History 24, no. 2 (2015), 309-315.
  • “Italy’s Colonial Past,” in Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy: History, Politics, and Society, edited by A. Mammone, E. G. Parini and G. A. Veltri (New York: Routledge, 2015), 327-337.
  • “The Holocaust—An Imperial Genocide?,” coauthored with Mark Roseman, Dapim—Studies on the Holocaust 27, no. 1 (2013), 42–49.
  • “Historians, Fascism, and Italian Society: Mapping the Limits of Consent,” co-authored with Giulia Albanese, in In the Society of Fascists, edited by Giulia Albanese and Roberta Pergher (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 1-28.
  • “The Consent of Memory. Recovering Fascist- Settler Relations in Libya,” in In the Society of Fascists, edited by Giulia Albanese and Roberta Pergher (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 169-188.
  • “Staging the Nation in Fascist Italy’s ‘New Provinces’,” Austrian History Yearbook 43 (2012): 98–115.